Caroline and Lucca: Student Profiles
It occurred to me, as I hiked around the vernal pools with fifth grade students Caroline and Lucca, that I am a better Splash guide than interviewer. So many beautiful things caught my attention that I spent much of the time pointing out the flowers, the vole runs, and the bird songs and not asking them questions! My only redemption is that frequently, “Wow!” was a common response and they seemed totally engaged in their Splash adventure.
When Caroline and I began our hike, the red shouldered hawk and the red winged black birds were competing for our attention with their voices while a robin perched silently on a branch. The peace and quiet of the vernal pool area really appealed to her. “It’s very peaceful out here once you get to the pools. It’s so pretty with all the birds singing to you.” Caroline thinks Splash is fun because, “The other science we do in class is in books and it’s not fun because you don’t get hands-on. When you do Splash, you know you get to do hands-on! It’s more fun because you get to see all kinds of stuff.”
Caroline is an active young lady who plays competitive soccer, does a lot of crafts and loves math class. She has had the opportunity to go camping with her family and particularly enjoyed Yosemite. When I asked about her plant and critter, she immediately launched into a description of the wooly marbles, detritus and the fairy shrimp. Caroline was excited to see the fairy shrimp at Splash because, “I had not seen them close like that! I thought that was really cool!” She was eager to see detritus at the bottom of the pool. “I’m not afraid to get dirty,” she said as were edged close to the water. Toward the end of our tour, we found a perfect pheasant feather! “Wow! It almost looks fake!,” she noted. Interestingly, it was the only feather in the vicinity so we pondered how one perfect feather got there.
Like Caroline, Lucca stays busy with both sports and school. He plays baseball for a ball team called the Crawdads, and plays Little League ball. Lucca said, “I like to draw, sketch, ride my bike, play with my friends and hang out with my family – and travel!” As far as school goes, “I like that there’s a lot of things to learn and it’s very educational – and it’s fun.” Compared to other classes at school though, Lucca commented that, “Splash is more hands-on learning – that’s what I like about it because I like to see the animals eye to eye with a microscope. I think it’s better that sitting in a classroom reading textbooks.”
Lucca studied the white hyacinth, pale spike rush and the flatworm and described each one thoroughly. I asked Lucca if he would like to be a flatworm and I was impressed with his generous spirit. “Yeah, it would be a fun life. I would be part of the vernal pool food chain and help out the other animals.” Lucca really understands the food chain and the value of each critter! When I asked if there was another critter he might like to be, after a few moments, Lucca answered, “I would like to be a burrowing owl – it would be fun to fly around. I’d like to fly – that would be fun!” Good plan – move to the top of the food chain!
According to Lucca, Splash is really fun and educational. “You can see a lot of cool creatures that you can’t see in a text book.” A lesson he will take with him is to not pollute the vernal pools. “If you wipe out some of the food chain it can really affect a lot of other animals.” When I asked Lucca how we could improve the Splash program, he responded, “I think it’s as good as it can be. I think it’s top notch right now.”
The network news will not be calling me to interview anyone, but I hope Splash keeps me as a guide, especially since I get to spend time with wonderful young people like Caroline and Lucca.